Tracking, analytics, and optimization should be thought of, strategized, and implemented at the onset of a campaign. This is not an afterthought.
Consider what you really need to track. Are you looking for effective reach? Bulk impressions? Clicks? Conversions? Or something else? Establish clear goals and stick with them.
How will measurement data be tracked? By each Web site? By a third-party ad server (3PA)? A combination? Or something else? If you use multiple tools, make sure it does not hinder the results of your campaign.
Take a look at overall Web traffic as it relates to your clients' brand, target audience, site, and the like. What share of voice (SOV) do you anticipate this campaign to result in?
How important is targeting to you? Are you targeting demographically, psychographically, technographically, behaviorally? Have you accounted for these factors in your tracking plan?
Is your target concerned with online privacy? If so, do they disable their cookies? Will this impact your campaign? If it does, be proactive; communicate this potential drop off upon campaign sign off. Clear expectations should be set.
Are there registration requirements on the sites you plan to advertise? If so, will this create a barrier to entry for some potential eyeballs?
If the goal of the campaign is branding, then why are you tracking conversions?
If you are concerned with conversions, have you considered latency? Some users may abandon a shopping cart but come back and purchase soon after.
Will integration among media, creative, messaging, or all of the above enhance your results? (I say in almost every instance - YES!)
Have you put a value on "bonus" or "value-added" inventory? If not, why? Show the savings you achieved. Toot your own horn. Nothing is ever free. Value-add always looks like an increase in reach. However, if not placed properly, it can increase your cost per conversion/lead/impression et al. You may want to track such inventory in a separate bucket.
An apple is not an orange. Don't force comparisons when tracking, analyzing, and optimizing. A large format streaming piece of creative is quite different from a skyscraper in a gif format. So why report them as the same?
Well I hope this gives you food for thought or even makes your life a little easier. If you have any questions, comments, tricks, or tips please share them with us here on the SPINboard.